Tag Archive | san juan

May 24, 2017

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Haim S, Aaron, David K, Nadine, Gili, Evan, Haim B, Josh

Yitzchak is an old friend who is visiting Israel and comes once every few years. Evan is Nadine’s nephew, visiting from northern California. He just graduated Berkeley and will be moving to Seattle, where he plans to look for game groups. Haim B and Josh happened to be in Jerusalem, one visiting from LA, one from Tel Aviv.

Slap Deck

Jon, Aaron, Haim S, Yizchak

I taught Yitzchak and Haim how to play. We played two quick games.


Evan 22, Nadine 21, Aaron 20

First play for Evan. They played while waiting for Gili and a new player to arrive; when two new players showed up they split into two groups of three instead of playing Princes of Florence. Twists: +1 point per card. And something about paying minions to invent.

Five Tribes

Nadine 171, Aaron 149, Evan 149

Nadine writes: Aaron helped Evan analyze in Five Tribes. Evan had 10 yellows when the 3 point djinn came out. Aaron convinced him to bid 12, and didn’t overbid him, but it would have been worth bidding 18 for a move where he got two more yellows and could buy the djinn. I had 7 cards and some good board spots, though not the most. Aaron ran out of camels which ended the game, I had 3 left. The cards stalled when I had 7; Evan had 5. Aaron was second in yellows, I had 5 whites at the end. I took money twice, and bid low and went last a lot, though we mostly didn’t bid a lot.

Notre Dame

Haim B 61, Gili 47, Josh 46

First play for Haim and Josh.

La Citta

David++, Yitzchak+, Jon-, Chaim S–

We played four rounds out of six. First plays for Chaim and Yitzchak, while David and I hadn’t played in a long time. Chaim got blindsided and wiped out when he lost a central city. This is a very punishing game that can wipe out your chance of winning if you are careless. Otherwise, you have to balance winning and losing. Early mines, which David had in plenty, are game-changing. Not surprisingly, the other person who had a fair shot of winning by the time we ended also had a good income. I had a very small income; although I understood the rules better and wasn’t entirely wiped out, I wasn’t doing anywhere near as well.

All of us had a problem with the card turnover. Often six or seven of the cards are useless, which means taking a mildly useful or useless card simply reveals a good one for the next player. Worse, some basic actions that you need to stay competitive or at least climb out of your hole (or at least keep you from being bored for the last hour of the game) are simply unavailable. There MUST be a way to gain people, at least temporarily, if the cards don’t show up for it.

We played around with a few suggestions for how to fix the card issue, and David’s seems best: put coins on unused cards (for some definition of unused. And always make buying people an option, I think. I will look online for some variants.

Nadine: You should have believed me, and we should have checked our house rules: Pay one coin to replace all cards.

San Juan

Evan 35, Yitzchak 34, Gili 34, Haim S 34

First plays for Evan and Haim. Gili removed the expansion cards before playing.



David/Jon 605, Nadine/Aaron 395

We ended early since it was getting late. A lot of bombs and some interesting hands. On one hand, I called Tichu after David was down to one card. I would have made it if a) Nadine didn’t have 2 bombs, and b) David didn’t decide to just go out after I ducked Nadine’s first high card play after her first bomb: I had three cards left: Dragon, 9, and Dog. I was waiting for her to play a single card lower than the 9. David thought I was stuck and could not go out. Unfortunately, even if he had not decided to go out, I still wouldn’t have made my Tichu because Nadine had her second bomb.

I called and made a Grand Tichu on a round where Aaron also called Tichu (for some reason). And then he set David’s Grand Tichu on the following round. So we went up and down in score a lot.

October 05, 2016

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Nati, Yael, Avi, Tal, Nimrod, Eitan

Tal and Nimrod are first time attendees. Avi and Nati came back for their second visit.

No Thanks

Jon+, David, Nadine

I took an early large number that helped me avoid most other cards for the rest of the game. David tried for one too many inside straights.


David 48, Jon 46, Nadine 41

We played this in two parts, stopping to play 7 Wonders between rounds 3 and 4. I suggested this since I hadn’t played in a while. I’m not a fan of the hidden win conditions aspect. But mostly, David kept taking exactly the dice I needed, sometimes – apparently – by accident. For example, I needed a white 3, and he had an extra influence point he needed to spend (to make room for more he was about to get) so he re-rolled the die and got a 6. 6 is better than 3, unless you need that number exactly for adding a cube to the 3rd column in the castle.

I also forgot about a few of the rules before play, and so missed a few opportunities for better plays.

Robinson Crusoe

Gili, Yael, Nati, Avi

First play of this co-op by everyone. They lost. Gili said it was somewhat frustrating.

San Juan

Gili 36, Yael 35, Nati 25, Avi 23

They included the expansion cards. First play for some of them.

Slap Deck

Tal, Nimrod

These guys came late, and someone was supposed to come (turned out that he had already come and I hadn’t noticed). I taught them this filler and they played until my roommate Eitan showed up and convinced one of them to play Chess.


Eitan, Tal/Nirmod

I didn’t see how this went.

7 Wonders

Tal 66, Jon, David, Nadine, Nimrod

I taught this to Tal and Nimrod. Tal ended at least 10 points ahead of anyone else, which was amazing. Nadine and I did science. Tal had a complete military set, and I started out with some too, but David on my right built more than I did. In the end he misplayed and lost the last military battle to mine. I had a smattering of other things as well. Nimrod’s points were all in blue cards.

August 10, 2016

Participants: Jon, Gili, David, Nadine, Aaron, Sheur, Nitzan, Eyal, Eitan

Welcome back Gili after her vacation. Also nice to see Eyal and Nitzan return. Eitan is my roommate who does not yet play games, but may someday. But he plays Chess.

Pirate’s Attack

Shneur+, Gili

Gili was given two games from Israeli game companies to review on her Hebrew video review series. This was one of them. The other had cubes.

Slap Deck

Nitzan++, Eyal, Jon

I taught this to both of them. Nitzan is a fan of speed games, and she did very well, winning both games.


Gili 44, Nadine 28, Shneur 28, David 22

I didn’t see how this played, but at one point Gili was getting only a single die to play with and she needed to use it to combat the black cards. And yet she seems to have handily won. Nadine: First play for Shneur who caught on well, Gili was first player which is an avantage. Many dice were bought or stolen which hurt David and me more than the others.

Age of Empires III

Eyal 103, Jon 100, Aaron 89, Nitzan 76

Aaron requested to play this. First play for Eyal and Nitzan. Aaron was under the impression that this would take a long time to teach, but it didn’t. It took 2.5 hours to play, however. Partly that was because Aaron analyzed every possible move before each play, and – since they were new players – often helped Eyal and Nitzan to do the same. I did a bit of this, too; at one point. I twice argued that it was better for other players to help themselves – and help me – rather than block both of us, since this would move us both forward. However, at some point it is best to let people just play and learn, or you end up playing for them. With all of his analysis, Aaron still made a few mistakes. He also failed in his first discovery attempt, which hurt.

Aaron started with the first building, which was the “gain $20 and therefore effectively buy two more buildings” building. He also got first crack at everything else, and then he got the “$5/round” building round 3. It was his game to lose, which he managed to. He was the first to put soldiers on the board, but his territory was outmatched by Eyal who had buildings giving him a free missionary every round and an extra colonist for each missionary. Aaron’s income was on par with Eyal’s, but he had few discoveries.

I was excelling in discoveries and buildings, and I was second to Eyal in board points, but his income was far better; I always bought a building when I wanted to, but his extra points on the board and extra points for income outclassed my extra points for discoveries/buildings. Just barely.


Eitan++, Shneur

Eitan is always willing to play Chess. He apparently easily outclassed Sheur in a series of games.

San Juan

David 37, Nadine 34, Gili 33

They stuck to the base cards. David ended the game with 9 production buildings, Library, Guild Hall, and something else.

May 03, 2016

Participants: Jon, David, Gili

Owing to various minor holidays, game night was moved to Tuesday this week and Sunday next week. I always thought that some people who couldn’t come on Wed would show up when we moved to another day, but that didn’t happen. And most of the regulars didn’t come either, as you can see.

Magic:The Gathering

Jon+, David

We didn’t have enough time to draft, so we pulled some random cards from the cards we had been drafting with over the last few months. The quality of what I had to choose from was fairly high: light on big creatures, but good in control and combination creatures (that can also be cast as enchantments or that give each other bonuses) and control cards (lots of red direct damage and other kill cards). I also had some multi-colored mana-producing artifacts, so I played BRW. My first pull had no lands, but I mulliganned and then eked out the land I needed after that. I also pulled decent cards. I took out everything David played and still had some control cards to spare.

David played RU. I don’t know what his deck was like.

San Juan + expansion

David 35, Gili 33, Jon 30

We were waiting to see if someone else came, so we played this.This is my first play with the expansion cards from the Alea box; we didn’t play with the extra role cards. Some of the expansion cards are interesting, and none of them seemed especially unbalanced. Gili used the Bank to stash 12 cards  for 12 game ending points after a super trade. We also played Garden wrong; I decided that you could overbuild it, even if you didn’t have a Crane, which is fine, because the building kind of sucks otherwise.

David won with nice combinations of Carpenter, Quarry, and Library. Gili had her Bank and was the first and only player to build Silver. I got out some point cards and was the first with Prefecture and an expansion building that gave me a 2 GP good on Counselor. I didn’t have enough utility cards, however.


David 44, Jon 38, Gili 35

Gili chose this after a bit of wrangling. And she then proceeded to roll dice poorly and complain about it. I also rolled dice poorly – not all the time. Mostly it was the one time I had 7 dice to roll and I needed 3 or greater on as many dice as possible and I only succeeded with 2 of the dice. For the same action, Gili rolled 6 dice and succeeded with only 2 of them. David rolled 6 dice and succeeded with all 6 of them.

That didn’t change the game, but it felt frustrating. Aside from that, the game was pretty close.


Jon 24, David 15

David 22, Jon 20

We finished Troyes early and Gili had to go, so we played two rounds of this. In both games there was one negative and one positive twist. I pulled out an early lead in the first game and maintained it. In the second game, David played his minions well and ended the game before I could build up to my last card.

July 13, 2011

Participants: Jon, Christian, David K, Nadine, Gili, Shmuel

Christian is a visitor from Germany who will be in Israel for a month. Shmuel is Gili’s nephew, who will also be in Israel for a month.

San Juan

David 41, Jon 38, Christian 32, Nadine 27

Christian had played this once a while ago; it has been supplanted in his group by Race for the Galaxy. I changed the Guild Hall to only give 2 points for each type of production building.

No one built a Prefecture, but David built a fairly early Library. And he still built a complete Guild Hall. I had Aqueduct and Wishing Well going. Nadine was behind in buildings.

Odin’s Ravens

Shmuel, Gili

Gili relearned this game and taught it to Shmuel. Shmuel won the first race after Gili extended the board several times. They ended the game after the one race.


Jon 56, Christian 49, David 34

First play for Christian. One my, and David’s, favorites. I racked up some early debt, eventually hitting 5 debt chips, which had me worried. Also, I’m usually able to buy Church by round 6 or 7; when I couldn’t, largely because I wasn’t producing any trade goods (gold, cow, or copper), I was concerned. David had both Gold Mines; however, he didn’t have a single trade chip producing building. He was taking trade chips, instead of more valuable goods, when he moved forward on the railroad track.

In the end I was able to cancel all but three of my debt chips, though just barely.


Nadine+, Gili, Shmuel

First play for Shmuel. I didn’t see how it went.


Jon/David 600, Nadine/Christian 200

First play for Christian. We played five hands. I bid and made one Tichu and one Grand Tichu, both by the skin of my teeth. I bid the Grand Tichu with AKQJT92 and the Phoenix.

June 01, 2011

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K

Quiet night.


Jon+, Gili

Gili is not into abstracts, but she agreed to try this quick game. I vaguely recall that when I first got the game, I could shake the dice while they were in the box; I see that this is not possible, so my memory must be faulty. This inability detracts from the ease of setting up the game.

Otherwise, it’s a very nice, quick, and pretty abstract game.

San Juan

Gili 36, Jon 33, Nadine 24

We had some trouble coming up with a filler game to play until Gili finally suggested this. I played several buildings to help my production and trading, and a Smithy. I had all 12 buildings built, two of them large buildings, and a Chapel going, too. But, in the end, Gili got a mid-game Guild Hall and that was that.

Time to a) change Guild Hall or b) disallow multiples of production buildings. It’s simply too unbalancing. This happens in nearly every game.


Gili 58, Jon 56, Nadine 51, David 50

Gili suggested this and I never turn this game down, as it’s my favorite game (or thereabouts, anyway). It’s enjoyable the first few times, and gets better as you learn all the possibilities. I can see that I’ll want some variant buildings maybe a few dozen more plays down the line; but we have a long way to go before that happens.

I thought I started out ok. I managed a good balance of trade chips. But I realized on turn five that I was severely lacking in trade goods: no gold, cows, or copper. Thus, I wasn’t able to take Church on round 5 or 6 like I generally aim for. Instead, Gili was the one with the early gold mine, and David swiped the other one. Gili saw me going for Church on round 7 and easily stole it from me.

I finally acquired good resources (a cow machine) and money as we neared the end, but not with enough sway to get the two Railroad Stations; David took those, though he paid a lot of resources to do so (bidding 16 in round 10, plus the coast of the three buildings). He didn’t have enough in the way of other VPs and he lost a lot paying off his final debts.

Just like San Juan, Gili had fewer buildings than I did but beat me by a few points. Nadine passed a few too many times, taking the 3 points on the railroad track at least twice.


Jon 83, Nadine 78, David 53

First play for David. I thought I could teach this quickly and we could play it fairly quickly (only 25 actions for each player, after all). I taught it quickly. And it didn’t appear to bog down at any point. But it took longer than I anticipated, around 2 hours. David had to leave before the last two turns were taken, so we played his turns for him.

We also played the missions correctly for the first time. In previous games we simply kept all of our missions, having missed the little note where it says to discard one of each color after the first and second passes.

I chose the 6 points per ship with smokestack, sail, and propeller over the 4 points per used water tile. The latter can be nice, but there’s no way to get multiple water tiles in a single action. My other mission was 3/10/17 points for 6 piece ships. I ended with 35 points from my missions, far more than David’s 22 and Nadine’s 18 or so.

My three boats scores 15, 15, and 18. Nadine’s one big boat scored 30 (10 speed, and landing on a 10 space flag, plus assorted other scoring features, and another scored pretty well, too. David concentrated on his missions, which included double smokestacks and number of ships, but missed out on some other scoring possibilities on the way. One of his boats only scored two points.

David adds: I had actually given up on winning quite a bit earlier. My strategy had been based on my bonus cards. I think if I had known how to play better it might even have been viable, but for a newbie it was WAY too ambitious as it required me to sail 6 ships. When I realized (fairly early) that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that I took your advice on setting a lower goal for the game.

Nadine adds: I had 15 bonus from having everything [every type of item] and 8 or 10 from blue and yellow cards, more than 18 [this works out to 23 or 25]. It’s hard to work on two bonuses at once, and we used to play with six.

October 13, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Mace, Gili, Nechama, Elijah, David K

Gili brought her friend Nechama. She pretty much spoke only Hebrew, and my Hebrew isn’t terribly good. I hope she enjoyed herself.

San Juan

Elijah 39, Jon 37, Mace 35, Nadine 32

I haven’t played this in a while, mostly because I really wish it had a good expansion. I generally remember the game as good, but not particularly special, but when I play it it’s always a slightly better game than I remember.

Nadine wasn’t particularly looking forward to playing it. This was Mace’s first play.

Elijah started with an early Prefecture followed by an early Library and Tobacco. Nadine started with Coffee and Mace with Carpenter. I had nothing to build in the first round. I finally got a Prefecture going by round 3, however, and Nadine built the third. Meanwhile, Mace built Quarry to go with his Carpenter and also ended the game with both City Hall and Palace.

I had Guild Hall, but it wasn’t enough.


David 26, Nechama 15, Gili 10

First play for Nechama. David was the only player who tossed out cards, and he tossed out 8 of them. Apparently illegal dumping pays off.

Taj Mahal

Elijah 34, Gili 32, Nechama 32, Mace 29, Nadine 28

First plays for Nechama and Mace. It was apparently Elijah’s night, and apparently not Nadine’s night.

Oddly for a five player game, commodities didn’t do to well and path connections did pretty well. I saw a few fierce battles out of the corner of my eye.

Magic: the Gathering

David+++, Jon+

We played with roughly the same cards that I played with Mace last time, having not properly mixed the random card pile before drafting.

I honestly thought that I had a decent chance at winning a few games with a W/G deck, 8 Plains to 6 Forests and mostly white cards. However most of my games came down to mana screw again. I drew 5 forests and no plains for much of the first game. I drew 3 forests and no other land at all for nearly all of the last game.

I won game 2 partly because David didn’t draw quite enough land to support his G/U/R deck, and partly because he drew a few times from his discards by accident instead of from his deck. I thought I was dong well, with a few white cards that sent his creatures back to his deck and a few direct disenchant spells, neutralizing all of his enchantments. But apparently I was fooling myself.

I was doing fine in game 3, but I left myself blockerless at 14 life against his 1/1 creature, and he won instantly with two Giant Growth’s and a spell that lets his creature deal its power in damage to target creature or player.


David 217, Mace 129, Jon 108, Nadine 55, Elijah 36

I gave this game the short shrift after our previous and first encounter with it, as it seemed like the strength of your cards determined your success and that the play with five players was somewhat random. It appeared to work better with four players, but that made the game kind of irrelevant since there are some much better four-player card games at hand.

Feedback on the Geek guilted me into giving this another try. Elijah and Nadine both vaguely remembered not liking the game, but unspecifically enough that they were willing to try it again. This was the first play for both David and Mace.

This time was a much better experience. In fact, even Nadine admitted that she found the game interesting after a few hands. Everyone else also said that they liked it.

I got a lot of laughs when explaining the rules, which are not really that complicated, though each of the few major rules has a number of niggly points to make it work, and the two tables (bid vs points required, points taken vs bonus) just have to be memorized or referred to on each hand. But it’s really not all that complicated if you’re used to other trick taking or bidding games, especially those that reward points based on the specific cards taken (as opposed to tricks taken).

The each-man-for-himself aspect works fairly well. As the hands progressed we began to feel the game was less random, and possibly even less luck-dependent on the cards (thought still highly so), and more for the strategy of the bidding and play. And our bidding got more aggressive.

Looks like this will hit the table again, after all.